The University of Newcastle's world renowned NUbots have set their sights on the latest robotics soccer challenge, forming the NUManoids to compete in a new league at the 2008 RoboCup competition.
The University has teamed up with the National University of Ireland to form the NUManoids. The team is programming the recently released Aldebaran Nao robot to compete in the new Standard Platform League.
The Standard Platform League replaces the Four-Legged League, in which the NUbots reached international fame for their success with the soccer playing robotic dogs.
PhD student Naomi Henderson from the University of Newcastle said only the 16 most experienced teams from around the world had been given access to the new robot hardware. Newcastle is one of only two Australian teams.
"With Sony no longer producing the four-legged soccer playing robotic dogs, teams are now working with the new two-legged Aldebaran Nao," Ms Henderson said.
"It's a whole new competition and this year's RoboCup will very much be about experimenting with the robots and establishing the new league."
In the new Standard Platform League, the soccer game will be played in 10 minute halves. Each team has three robots on the field including the goal keeper. A substitute is available on the sidelines in case of injury. Two of the robots are currently in Newcastle, with the other two are in Ireland.
Ms Henderson said the ultimate aim of the NUManoids was to develop and program robots that could support humans with routine, as well as dangerous and expert tasks.
"These new robots have presented a number of challenging research tasks and given us an indication of the direction this type of robotics research will take in the next two to five years."
RoboCup 2008 will be held in China from 14 - 20 July 2008. The NUManoids will leave for China on Sunday 13 July 2008.
The NUManoids are available for picture opportunities today (Wednesday 9 July 2008).